Nashville, Tennessee Jane Doe

Nashville Jane Doe

Photo courtesy of

Body found in Cumberland River


In March 1998 a woman’s body was found floating in the Cumberland River near Cleese’s Ferry in west Nashville. Unquestionably she was a murder victim because she’d been shot twice in the head. It’s been 16 years and she still hasn’t been identified.

The woman was only about 5’2″ tall. She was slightly overweight at 170 pounds or so. She appeared to be between 45 and 55 years of age, more likely under 50. She was white with short, wavy, brown hair with blonde highlights. Her eyes were green and fringed with what I consider luxuriant eyelashes.

The victim was almost certainly not a transient. She had had very expensive bridgework — the Nashville investigators considered it had cost around $10,000. Somebody who put that amount of money into her mouth had very likely been living comfortably before she was murdered, IMO.

victim's sweatpantsThe woman was wearing black sweat pants with a “Tweety In Training” patch on the front. She also had white panties and one white Reebok tennis shoe with red trim.

The body was found with jewelry — a gold necklace with a “Leo” zodiac pendant, a dark gray ring and a gold ring. Neither of the rings would I consider a wedding band.

The woman had been at the Valley Market on Music Valley Drive in the Donelson area the night before her body was discovered. A clerk at the store remembered her, and remembered complimenting her on the necklace she was wearing. The clerk also recalled seeing the victim in the company of a black man who was also wearing a gold chain necklace with a gold zodiac pendant.

PendantI could not find if the clerk had reported what colour and type of shirt or jacket the victim was wearing. None was found with the body.

In 2011 the Nashville police submitted the womans’ DNA and fingerprints into the national database. There were, sadly, no missing person matches. She had had no criminal record either.

Sixteen years is a long time for a family to not know what happened to their loved one. Sixteen years is also a long time for a killer to get away with murder.

I found the photo of the victim’s face (see above) and although the quality isn’t very good her features are readily discernable. Obviously the shots to the head hadn’t damaged her face.

Since I found the photo, I decided to do what I love to do — put a life-like face to the unidentified Jane Doe. I think she turned out well.

Nashville Jane Doe

I was tempted to make the face more symmetrical, but it was impossible to tell from the photo if she was more swollen on one side because of the circumstances of her death, or if her face was truly asymmetrical in life.

“Wavy” hair could translate into all sorts of hairstyles, so basically I guessed. The report said her hair was 5″ — what does that even mean? Five inches all over? Five inches below her ears? I went with that. I did try to make her hair look highlighted — not very easy. The photo didn’t show the hairline, so I guessed on that too.

Because this lady was out with a guy the last night she was seen, I chose to add some makeup. She was wearing jewelry, which might indicate she wanted to look good. And being in her 40’s she probably never went to work or out socializing without makeup.

I rather wish the report on this Jane Doe had indicated if she’d had children. I doubt that she had young children when she died — she would have been greatly missed if she didn’t come home, especially if she hired a babysitter.

Because she was wearing a “Leo” zodiac pendant, I think it’s very likely that was her astrological sign.

If anyone has any ideas of who this Jane Doe is, please contact the Tennessee & Davidson County Medical Examiner’s Office at 615-743-1800. The case manager is listed as Steven Jolley, 615-862-7843.

The unidentified woman is on the site, case 980662.

Here’s hoping that finally, after all of these years, somebody will claim her as their own. And it would be more than great if her killer was identified too, and brought to justice. case report
WKRN News article

6 Responses to Nashville, Tennessee Jane Doe

  1. cleo says:

    Hi everyone. This weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada (turkey!!!), so I shall likely be taking a break from posting articles for the next few days.

  2. bulldoggy says:

    Good job Cleo and happy Thanksgiving to you.

  3. moodymagic says:

    I think is another good job Cleo and I hope they discover who this poor woman is what happened to her.

  4. linda says:

    I really like how you add the personal belongings to your impression of how the deceased may have looked. That should be done more often.

  5. PJ says:

    Good job cleo. She looks like a regular person in your picture. I hope somebody recognizes her finally.

  6. Karin Ebbesson says:

    As someone who has seen hundreds of these, the reconstruction looks great! My only tip would be that most postmortem photos are taken with the person laying on their back, many times with the head “cradled”. This causes the chin to go down, thus causing the skin on the neck and face to kind of push together, making the UID look heavier than she actually is. (put your chin toward your chest and look with a mirror). I think in this case she had swelling/blood pooling on the right side of her face. Also, unless the person is found close to TOD, the lips, upper in particular, will start to retract. Great job!

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